How Long Does the Post Office Keep or Hold Undelivered Parcels?

USPS is an old and reputed logistics service in the US. They have been serving their customers for around two centuries. Helping millions of people, shipping billions of mail and handing thousands of workers is not a simple task. Sometimes, the postal service employee faces the issue when there is no one available to receive the package at the destination. In some cases, it happens that the mail is too large that it does not fit into the recipient’s mailbox. But, as per the postal regulation the letter carrier is not supposed to leave the mail piece unattended at the door or any other places.

In such cases, the only option is to deliver the package to the recipient directly. Again if there is no one at the place to collect, then this becomes more challenging. The letter carrier has to come again on the next day, or he leaves a PS Form 3849 at the door of the customer.

What Happens to Undelivered Mail:

Next step that the customer has to do is to fill out the PS Form 3849 which is essential to collect the package that is held at the post office. The customer also can visit the local post office to receive the package. But, in some case, if there is no action taken from the customer’s end within 15 days, then the local post office sends back the USPS undelivered package to the sender. There are two scenarios in returning the package, they are:

  1. Package with return address: If there is a return address on the mail item, then post offices send that mail item back to that address after 15 days. In a rare case, if the local post office finds that there is no one available at the sender address to get the mail item, then the item is sent to the lost mail department.
  2. Package without return address: If there is no return address on the package, then the mail item is sent to Dead Mail Office. There, the employees try to trace the return address, and if they are unable to find the sender address, then they destroy the mail to guard the privacy of the customers. If there are valuable things in the package, then it will be sold out at the auction.
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How Long Does the Post Office Keep Undelivered Parcels?

undelivered mail time frameThe letter carrier leaves a delivery notice or PS Form 3849, in case if there is no one available at the home to receive the package. Now, in case if the recipient is away for quite a long time, then the next question that will come to your mind is how long does the post office hold undelivered packages? Read through this article to know more about the regulations of undelivered packages, how the post office handle the scenario and how long will the package stay at the post office.

The letter carrier takes two attempts to deliver the package to the desired location. If he does not find anyone to collect the mail for the first attempt, then he takes back the mail to the post office. The package will be held for 15 days at the Post Office. After 15 days, the post office attempts to deliver the mail piece again. There are specific scenarios where the package is not delivered for multiple attempts.

The letter carriers act in the below two situations.

  1. If the letter carrier knows that there is someone usually present at the location to collect the packages, then he will try to deliver the mail on the first attempt. If he is not able to deliver the package on the first attempt as there is no one available to receive the mail, then he will again attempt to deliver it on the next day. In this case, PS Form 3849 cannot be left. This can be left only after the second attempt of delivery. This means that the package is held at the local post office.
  2. If the letter carrier knows that usually there is no one available to receive the parcel at the location, then he will leave notice or PS FORM 3849 at the very first delivery attempt.
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